New Cardiff Devils signing Bryce Reddick during the open training session at Ice Arena Wales. Pic: Helen Brabon.
Cardiff Devils open their 2017-18 ice hockey season tonight when they take on Elite League rivals Nottingham Panthers in the English midlands.
Head coach Andrew Lord now has all of his Devils players in the UK with key defenceman Andrew Hotham flying in to complete the group.
‘Hoth’ is unlikely to be involved against Nottingham away, but will play when the teams meet again in a pre-season match at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay on Sunday (6pm).
Newcomers Matt Pope, Bryce Reddick, Drew Paris, Paul Crowder, Justin Faryna and Craig Moore are all in the Devils line-up at Nottingham, while Latvian-born forward Toms Rutkis will also play.
Rutkis, who competes in second tie hockey for Swindon, and Cardiff Fire defenceman Callum Buglass have both signed two-way contracts which allow them to train and play for Devils.
Both are Great Britain under-20 internationals.
Welshman Buglass came through the Devils youth development programme, while Rutkis scored 64 points in 14 outings for the Okanagan Academy in 2014-15.
Aaron Nell, Swindon’s head coach, says: “Toms is one of the best young players in the country.
“Toms skates well, works extremely hard and isn’t scared to go to the tough areas of the ice to score goals.”
Although born in Latvia, Rutkis has dual nationality with the GB and has represented the country at u-18 and u-20 level.
He began his career with Haringey Hounds, spent two seasons with Romford Hornets and moved on to Guildford in 2012-13 where he scored 53 points in 20 appearances for the Firestars and 14 in 14 games for Phoenix.
Rutkis, who joined Swindon in 2013, took part in Devils open training session at the IAW on Thursday along with Buglass and highly-rated young Welsh netminder Lewis Davies, who is from Barry.
Cardiff Devils put on a full training session for supporters on Thursday when admission was free. Spectators were encouraged to pay a £2 donation which raised £700 for junior development.
Lord and his players took to the ice in their new red jerseys before changing into colours shirts and forming teams to face-off against each other in five competitions.
The two sides played 4 on 4, 3 on 3 and then went through close quarter battle drills before deciding the winners with a shootout.
Devils fans were buzzing after the on-ice session and the team joined them in the bar for the jersey raffle.
Three jerseys for each player – red, black and white – were available for sponsorship and all of them were snapped up.
Tonight’s Panthers v Devils match at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham is the first match in a three-team competition.
Holders Braehead complete the trio of clubs competing for the Aladdin Cup.
Braehead won the Aladdin Cup last year thanks to a 5-2 win over Panthers, while the competition has been changed to a round-robin format for the new season.
Aladdin Cup fixtures:
Saturday 12: Nottingham Panthers v Cardiff Devils (7pm)
Saturday 19: Cardiff Devils v Braehead Clan (7pm)
Sunday 20: Nottingham Panthers v Braehead Clan (4pm)
Sunday 13: Cardiff Devils v Nottingham Panthers (6pm)
Sunday 20: Cardiff Devils v Krefeld Penguins (6pm)
Cardiff Devils signings for 2017-18 season:
Netminders 2: Ben Bowns, Thomas Murdy.
Defence 6: Andrew Hotham (import), Bryce Reddick (import), Mark Richardson, Gleason Fournier (import), Drew Paris (import), Mark Louis (import).
Forwards 14: Paul Crowder (import), Josh Batch, Patrick Asselin (import), Matt Pope (import), Jake Morissette (import), Layne Ulmer (import), Andrew Lord (import), Joey Martin (import), Joey Haddad (import), Sean Bentivoglio (import), Matthew Myers, Craig Moore (British u-23), Justin Faryna (import), Luke Piggott.
Ticket information is available via 0800 0842 666 or on the club’s official website at cardiffdevils.com
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